Opinion: Park's place on 'Female Athlete of the Year' list baffles

By Randall MellDecember 26, 2013, 4:33 pm

It is as much a slap in the face to women’s professional golf as it is to Inbee Park.

Park just fashioned a history making year, becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1950 to win the first three major championships of the year, and yet Park didn’t even finish among the top three in the Associated Press voting for Female Athlete of the Year in 2013, as announced on Christmas Day.

Park is among just three women to win three majors in a single season in the history of golf. She joins Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986) as the only players to do so. Park went to the Women’s British Open in August with a chance to become the first man or woman to win four professional majors in a single season. Though her historic march fell short at St. Andrews, it’s baffling that her efforts were not considered among the top three in women’s sports this year.

Newsmaker of the Year No. 6: Inbee Park

Tennis star Serena Williams easily won the voting among sports editors, claiming 55 of 96 votes. WNBA rookie Brittney Griner was second with 14 votes and swimmer Missy Franklin was third with 10.

Williams enjoyed a banner year, winning 11 titles, two of them Grand Slam titles (U.S. Women’s Open and French Open). Still, Park’s achievements were more historic, a major championship run that somehow didn’t register the way it should have outside golf’s niche. It’s not as if Park didn’t do anything beyond the majors. She won six times overall, became the first South Korean to win Rolex Player of the Year and won her second LPGA money title.

Griner is a spectacular showcase for the WNBA. She set dunk records for the league and helped her Phoenix Mercury make the league finals. But nagging injuries slowed her progress as a rookie. A left knee sprain plagued her much of the season. She missed the All Star Game with it. She missed seven regular-season games in a 34-game season.

Franklin won four gold medals in the 2012 Olympics, but this isn’t even an Olympic year.

Griner and Franklin have larger profiles, more mainstream recognition than Park enjoys. Their names, their faces, their stories resonate more than Park’s. They're also all Americans. Still, that doesn't completely explain the voting. As recently as 2003 through 2007, women’s golf owned the AP award, with Sweden's Annika Sorenstam winning three times and Mexico's Lorena Ochoa twice.

This was a terrific year in women’s golf, with storylines galore in Park, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, 16-year-old Lydia Ko, 18-year-old Lexi Thompson and a history-making European Solheim Cup team. Still, apparently, the stories aren’t resonating enough beyond the golf niche. The women in golf aren’t playing on a stage big enough to overshadow women’s tennis, the WNBA or the Olympics. Or they don't have the star power to illuminate the stage.

The talent’s definitely there in the LPGA ranks, but this year’s voting has to make you question the tour’s star power, or lack thereof.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.